The year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite bike they rode in 2014, and these five are the picks.
Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list. We’ll start today with the bikes we most enjoyed this year, but keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.
Cannondale Trigger 29
Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury
One of the most versatile all-mountain bikes in existence, the Trigger 29, with its big wheels and 130mm of travel, rolls over rough terrain like thunder across a late-summer sky. Flip the DYAD rear-shock lever and rear travel compresses to 80mm and the Attitude Adjust geometry raises the bottom bracket and moves rider position more forward into an optimum hard-charging pedaling position. Adding to all this prowess is the ultra-stiff Lefty SuperMax, with buttery smooth compression and damping—a fork that I can say with absolute confidence is one of my all-time favorites for all-mountain bashing.
Shown here is the stunning Carbon Team with a full XX1 group and RockShox Reverb dropper post, which weighs in at a mere 26.6 pounds without pedals. My own version is set up exactly the same but with an aluminum frame from 2013 and it still weighs in at less than 30 pounds, making it a perfect all-arounder for any and all of my off-road excursions.
Kona Process 111 DL
Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan
The Process 111 redefined what short-travel trail bikes are capable of tackling. Combine simple, efficient suspension with progressive geometry and the result is my favorite bike from 2014. My two main complaints are being addressed in the 2015 model, with the under-gunned RockShox Revelation fork being replaced with a Pike and the price dropping from $5,600 to $4,100 without losing any performance.
Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman
Fat bikes have monster-trucked their way into the mainstream this year, and Salsa continues to push the trend with the first full-suspension offering from a major manufacturer. This isn’t some cobbled-together freakshow, either; it’s a refined design featuring Dave Weagle’s excellent Split Pivot suspension. Salsa has also announced it will be available in a full carbon fiber version as well. Fat bikes aren’t just for snow anymore; the big tires are big fun all year round and the Bucksaw is breaking trail in a whole new market.
Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon
Starting at $5,899
Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner
From its first incarnation the Nomad has pushed the all-mountain category, maximizing both descending prowess and pedaling efficiency. Santa Cruz took a giant leap forward with the 2015 Nomad Carbon in terms of efficiency by providing an up-over-the-pedals riding position via a steep seat-tube angle and tuning the rear suspension for more mid-stroke support. The slack 65-degree head-tube angle provides a long front center for stability in steep terrain and at high speeds, while the short chainstays keep the rear end of the bike lively. Teamed with a low bottom bracket, this bike rips in fast, steep, and gnarly terrain. The new Nomad is a winning combination for rowdy riders: trail-bike weight and efficiency with the soul of a downhill bike.
Niner RLT 9 2-star 105 build
Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk
Maybe this is a bit of a surprise pick for me, but I’ve really enjoyed this bike. Whether it’s gravel waiting for grinding or hidden alternative lines along my morning commute, the RLT 9 is ready to tackle any road less traveled. It’s a fun ride that enables adventure—not to mention it features some of the best-looking colorways in all of cycling. Ride it anywhere; it can handle just about anything.
Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.
The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.